It’s finally here. After months of preparation and all the hype with the tweets and the Facebook posts and the Instagramming and all the rest, the Ake Festival kicked off on Wednesday at the Cultural Centre in Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.
For the first time in its three year history, there was an actual opening ceremony that saw the hall filled with all the three categories of folks that would have an interest in such an event. At the extreme left were the guest artists who would be featuring in the festival from all over the world. In their red tags with their names prominently featuring you could easily tell who you were dealing with.
On the right was a batch of journalists who would be seen with their grey tags keeping up with proceedings. The print journos were the folks who were furiously scribbling in notebooks to get the story, taking phone photos to ensure that they captured the events for future reference. There were also those broadcast journos with the big cameras that captured all the proceedings hopefully for TV. In the centre, there were the VIPS including Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun and other supporters, sponsors and generally important people.
The ceremony took quite a while. There were performances from Efe Paul Azino a brilliant poet, Qudus Onikeku a dancer extraordinaire and Aduka a singer filled with soul who strung her guitar lovingly alongside an unnamed violinist. There were also speeches from the Governor who officially opened the Festival, the EU ambassador locally, Mathilda Edwards of the Miles Morland Foundation and more. The most interesting speech related to the title of this blog was from Baji Nyam from Marine Platforms who was being jocular claiming that he too was a writer. He then announced two things of interest to writers that would be targeted to the writers in the Northern part of Nigeria. One was that they would start distributing 100 book libraries around the country so that young people can expand their minds. This is great for authors as their books would go further and they would possibly earn more in royalties.
Mr Nyam then announced that his organisation would be handing out cheques to the writers from the North who had been able to get their work published in spite of the many hurdles. The writers were given a handy 200,000 Naira (Kshs100,000) cheque for their troubles. They are;
- Samira Haruna Sanusi – S is for Survivor
- Halima Aliyu – Fire on the top of ice
- Abubakar Adam Ibrahim – Season of Crimson Blossoms
- Elnathan John – Born on a Tuesday
- Maryam Bogi – Bongel
Money for authors. That’s a good way to start a literary festival in my books.